How C4C Changes Children’s Lives

How C4C Changes Children’s Lives

By Ugne Aksiutovaite

Chance 4 Children is a non-governmental organisation, based in the Czech Republic, has been transforming the lives of Central Europe’s youth. Their helping hand reaches children who are institutionalised or ill and helps people of all ages from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

 

This week at The Planet Calls, we want to highlight the importance of giving back. We thought there would be no better way to highlight the importance of doing so than to put a spotlight on the excellent work of C4C. Below is a Q&A with the Founder of C4C, Manfred Franke.

 

Visit Chance 4 Children

 

What made you get involved in this line of work?

C4C started as a way to offer my children (5) a way to give back. 26 years ago; we started visiting orphanages as a family, bringing gifts for Christmas and other holidays. My kids practiced small performances, did clown shows, etc. – anything to share some of what they could give to those less fortunate than themselves.

Soon, we received direct requests for help from management. I contacted friends and retailers in Germany. Shipments began arriving, we started to distribute, rented a warehouse, and began to organise more elaborate trips for whole orphanages to see a movie or attend the theater in Prague, have a meal out, etc. This was the beginning of C4C.

What do you think are the biggest challenges institutionalised children face within society?

The stigma of being an “orphan,” a severe lack of confidence, self-respect, and self-esteem, and the almost total lack of support normal children receive from their parents after they fly the coop. These kids are all on their own from the time they turn 18 and must leave their institutions. This in itself is a huge bearing for a child of this young age.

Regarding the Springboard to Life program, what do you do to help disadvantaged children transition into successful adults?

From the age of 14, we provide educational and vocational programs to help them succeed in the job market and integrate into mainstream society. We also provide mentors and folks to reach out to when the going gets rough or just for advice and help.

What is the process of helping people through the Robin Hood and Dr. Clown programs?

With our programs and initiatives, we strive for best practices and sustainability of support and finances. This is not an easy task, especially during these times of Covid uncertainty.

C4C has certain long-standing partners for in-kind donations such as new apparel, clothing, shoes, and household items, including H&M in Sweden, Vanity Fair, Vans, Napapijri, Danone, ScJohnson, etc. These are all long-term partners and have delivered sustainable help and assistance through the years, some for more than 20 years.

Financing Dr. Clown has been more of a task, and finding patronage is an ever-present challenge. Partners like LEGO & Kaufland only offer help for a limited amount of time (1 or 2 years). Then the hunt begins again.

Essential parts of overall financing in the past have been our public collections, which were aimed mainly at the tourism sector. Partners like AirBnB and City Sightseeing Hop on – Hop off donated a percentage of their local income toward C4C. This crucial means of raising funds has collapsed, as there is no more international tourism to speak of.

How would you describe the atmosphere and relationships between those involved in the organisation and the people they help?

I can answer this with one word: WONDERFUL! Our staff consists of highly motivated idealists who do their job not because of money but because of their sincere desire to make this world a better place to live in – especially for those less fortunate than ourselves or our children.

Is there anything else you are hoping to see C4C achieve in the future?

We are currently pioneering the natural synergies which exist between children and seniors in their respective roles as grandchildren or grandparents. Our Hand in Hand initiative is going into its third year.

Orphans not only grow up mainly without the influence of their parents, but they also miss out on the roles that grandparents provide in natural family life. Seniors in senior homes have also been largely abandoned by their natural families, who often live elsewhere, and the comfort and joy that comes from taking a role in the upbringing of their grandchildren.

It has been an incredible experience for all involved. Children learn sewing and knitting, and the youngsters are helping seniors to discover long-forgotten songs on YouTube. This is only one of a plethora of examples our team can report.

So, our Hand to Hand is undoubtedly a new perspective and a future direction we will explore further. I guess, ultimately, we will have to change, amend or rebrand the Chance 4 Children name, as our outreach now includes seniors as well – in our Springboard to Life and Dr. Clown programs.

C4C has grown over the years to become a far-reaching organisation that develops and implements new programs to help those less fortunate. It is an inspiring movement that presents opportunities and builds new relationships, a rewarding and meaningful way to help communities, and something everyone can get involved in.

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